Would you eat the cost or take further action?


#1

My 2002 Nissan Sentra 1.8L GXE with 146k was intermittently stalling out a couple of weeks ago and eventually wouldn’t restart even after giving it some time to cool down. I had it towed to a shop in town because it was “AAA Approved” and one of their mechanics performed diagnostics. He informed me that he wasn’t able to determine what the issue was with 100% certainty, but he was fairly sure the mass air flow sensor needed to be replaced and gave me an estimate of ~$750. I shopped around because I thought this was high and found another well reviewed local shop willing to do it for ~$500. I gave the owner of the second shop all of the information the first mechanic told me and he informed me that he wouldn’t charge me for doing his own diagnostics, but I didn’t realize this meant he didn’t plan on doing his own diagnostics AT ALL (he also never asked who I took the car to in the first place).

Not surprisingly, my car began stalling again a couple of days after I got it back so I returned it to the shop who did the repairs. This time around they did perform their own diagnostics, even switching out the part they had replaced to make sure it wasn’t just a faulty part. After all of this, the owner told me he had no idea what the issue is and recommended I take it to a Nissan dealership or a shop that specializes in imports. He said that had I brought my car to him originally and he’d performed the diagnostics on his own and done repairs that didn’t address the problem, he’d give me my money back. However, because I’d had the diagnostics performed at another shop first, he wasn’t going to give me a refund. I really don’t want to sue somebody over $500, but I feel like I’m getting screwed here.


#2

he operated in good faith that this is what you needed and gave you a good price. that is not how i would have proceeded, but in light of him trying to give you a good deal, he cut corners (with good intentions)

i think it is fair that he and you faithfully assumed the prior shop was accurate in it’s assessment. that clearly is not true, so you should chalk it up to a lesson learned.

good mechanics would refuse to just accept someone elses diagnostic. too many variables to give a customer the guarantee. sometimes, you do want to pay the full price and not skimp.


#3

You got a diagnosis at shop #1 and waa told, “it’s the flux capacitor” (for example). You then go to shop #2 and say, “replace my flux capacitor.”

When the flux capacitor fails to fix the car, who’s to blame? I don’t think I’d assign blame to shop =1. Granted, they got the wrong diagnosis, but it’s impossible to be right the first tine, every time…like medicine, it’s often a matter of working methodically and ruling things out one by one.

It’s clear there was a breakdown in communication between shop =2 and customer regarding diagnostics. If the customer did ask the shop to replace a part, and the shop did it, then it’s on the customer.

OP, in medicine, there is a philosohpy of “paternalism”: you can’t just show up and say, “cut off my leg/give me a third eye/give me a Vicodin script” and expect anything to happen.

In auto mechanics, by contrast, cash is king and the customer is (mostly) sovereign: what the customer says, goes. (Which is the way I like it: all I need to do is arrive at the correct diagnosis, not cajole a human being into “seeing things my way.”)

With that privilege, however, comes responsibility: nobody to blame if the course of action is incorrect. (Again, as a proponent of personal authority and responsibilty, is how I like it.)


#4

So car is still not fixed?


#5

He said that had I brought my car to him originally and he’d performed the diagnostics on his own and done repairs that didn’t address the problem, he’d give me my money back.

People say all kind of things when they are not backed into a corner having to honor them.There’s a good chance his diagnostic testing would have led him down the same path. He probably doesn’t stock a MAF for your car so he would have to buy one and they’re non-refundable. Do you REALLY think he would eat that cost or is it more reasonable to assume he would have said, we took our best shot but that’s not it, we need to keep looking. After all, the first shop told you straight up, it may not fix the problem.

You went shopping for a bargain, basically told them what should be replaced and are now feeling like you got taken?

You learned a valuable lesson- never, ever, suggest to person repairing something what you think is wrong and should be replaced. It’s almost a gaurantee that part, and the one actually causing the problem, will be replaced- at your expense.


#6

It sounds to me like the OP told the second shop to replace his MAF.
Even if those were not his exact words, I think that–in effect–this is how it was interpreted by shop #2.

If that is the case, then shop #2 did exactly what was expected of them, and they are not required to refund any of the cost. Yes, good business practice would probably include trying to make the customer happy, but…


#7

@jcschrock, I think you should let it go. Mechanic #2 performed the service you requested, namely replacing the MAF sensor mechanic #1, diagnosed. Instead of paying $750 to find out it was a wrong diagnosis, you paid $500. But mechanic #2 is not liable for mechanic #1’s bad guess, and mechanic #1 is off the hook because he didn’t do the work. Trying to get the $500 back from mechanic #2 because he didn’t do a diagnosis to confirm will be fruitless, because you requested the work.

In the future, when you go to get a second or third opinion, go on like they are the first ones to see the car. Let them come up with their own diagnosis and repair options, then compare each independent results. If they are similar, you can compare price. If they are different, you know someone is guessing.


#8

“In the future, when you go to get a second or third opinion, go on like they are the first ones to see the car. Let them come up with their own diagnosis and repair options, then compare each independent results. If they are similar, you can compare price. If they are different, you know someone is guessing.”

+1
Excellent advice!


#9

This post is a perfect example of why a mechanic should never accept a job based on what a customer tells them to replace or what another shop has stated. In this case the second shop did not screw up other than to rely on what the customer said and it’s anybody’s guess as to what could be lost in translation between Shop1 and Shop 2.

AAA Approved may or may not mean anything either. Right off the top of my head I can think of 2 “AAA Approved shops” in my area that are suspect.
One shoves the full BG treatment onto everyone coming through the door; even on near new cars.
Two is a fast lube next to the Wal Mart and they’ve been known to sell various filters and fluid services without actually changing those filters or fluids.


#10

Sounds like shop 2 did exactly what the OP asked them to do. Shop 2 was working solely off what information the OP provided. They aren’t liable for incorrect information being given them. I don’t think the OP was screwed by either shop, not to sound rude, but this is an instance where being cheap backfired.


#11

Yep, you just bought a new MAF which gets you a little closer to finding out what the real problem is.

When you go to the doctor, you don’t tell them what is wrong. They have to run their own diagnostics. Then they can be held accountable for it. When you tell someone what is wrong and what to do, you accept the responsibility if it is not the correct answer.


#12

In my opinion, shop#2 did nothing wrong and owes you nothing. You requested a MAF sensor replacement, he quoted a price you agreed to and performed the work. The only thing he owes you is a warranty on the MAF if it fails.

Shop #1 may have given you a faulty diagnosis, but you’re on the hook for that one too. No shop is going to stand behind work done elsewhere unless they were the ones who sublet it.

If I were shop#2, I would have given you a price for a MAF replacement, and offered to do a diagnosis for $100. If you refused the diag fee, I would have requested prepayment for the MAF and you would have signed the invoice stating the work was done at your request and I would guarantee neither the part nor the labor.

As an aside, why is it so hard to get a Nissan fixed? They’re not unusual or difficult cars.


#13

I can tell mechanic what I think is wrong. He wants to know WHY you are there. Car won’t idle. Car stalls. Maf is good place to start. Low fuel pressure is another.


#14

I can tell mechanic what I think is wrong. Car won’t idle. Car stalls

Those are symptoms and observations. You realize the difference between providing that and a definitive diagnosis like saying the MAF needs to be replaced, right? That’s the distinction being made in the prior posts…